In 2002 Caryn Seidman-Becker created and ran a successful hedge fund that ultimately grew to $1.5 billion assets - an amount that was unheard of for a woman to manage at the time. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Caryn - like thousands of other funds - closed her fund. She loved managing money, but decided to do something different - buy an airport-focused biometric-identity company that had raised $90 million and had filed for bankruptcy. She bid $5.87 million at the bankruptcy option, renamed the company CLEAR, raised $150 million in capital from various investors including Delta Airlines and United Airlines, and took the company public on June 30, 2021. Today, CLEAR’s market capitalization is $3.5 billion, landing Caryn on the Forbes list of America's Richest Self-Made Women (2021).
Caryn’s journey to incredible success is one of pivoting, grit, instincts, determination, and leadership. When she decided to close her hedge fund, it would have been impossible to predict that she’d go on to reach massive success with the purchase of a bankrupt biometric-identity company. But if Caryn’s story teaches us anything, it’s that with insatiable curiosity, transparency, determination - and was she describes as being indefatigabel - you can accomplish your wildest dreams.
In this episode, Randall and Caryn discuss how her childhood experiences and time attending the University of Michigan shaped her future, the importance of great teachers and mentors, the ability to overcome challenges and make tough decisions, the experience of buying a bankruptcy company and turning CLEAR into a company with $450 million in annual revenues, and advice for female entrepreneurs trying to find funding.
- What values her parents instilled in her
- Her first job in NYC in risk arbitrage
- Why she started her hedge fund Arience Capital Management
- The decision to close Arience in late 2008
- Advice for people who want to start over and pursue their passions
- What is CLEAR?
- Transparency and real-time feedback in the age of social media
- The impact of COVID on CLEAR and creating CLEAR Health Pass
- The importance of preparation - and EXTREME PREPARATION - on the path to excellence
- Caryn’s ingredients for success
- Her view on making money
- Fill In The Blank For Excellence
- And other topics…
Caryn Seidman-Becker is the Chair and CEO of CLEAR, an expedited airport security service that allows its members to quickly pass through airport security lines. Caryn and a colleague bought CLEAR's predecessor out of bankruptcy in 2010, and after raising $150 million from investors including Delta Airlines and United Airlines, she took the company public in June 2021 at a $4 billion valuation.
Before CLEAR, Caryn built a successful career in asset management, first at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder and later at Iridian Asset Management. In 2002, she founded her own money management Arience Capital, grew it to $1.5 billion in assets, and closed it December 2008.
Caryn serves on the boards of Home Depot and Lemonade, and in 2021 Forbes named Caryn the 27th wealthiest self-made woman in the United States. Caryn is also a dedicated philanthropist. In 2004, Caryn created The Happy Elephant Foundation which supports education, child wellness, and the New York City community, and she serves on the Board of Trustees of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and on the board of the Department of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from the greatest college on the planet - the University of Michigan.